As many of you have ascertained by now, I Love, Love, Love to make tarts. I am truly happy when I'm rolling little, individual crusts. When I saw this recipe in the Balthazar cookbook I put it on my list of "must-makes". (If you're ever in NYC, stop by Balthazar in Soho for lunch, cocktails, dinner, or if for nothing else, just to see the restaurant.... Trés French.) This will be dinner tonight with a salad of greens, dried cherries and goat cheese (yes, more goat cheese). The vinaigrette will have bacon. Goat cheese tarts, a salad, glass of wine, and crank-up-the-heat ! It's cold tonight in St. Paul.
Goat Cheese Tart with Caramelized Onions
adapted from the Balthazar Cookbook by Keith McNally, Riad Nasr & Lee Hanson
• 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 10 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
• 2 large egg yolks
• 3 tablespoons ice-cold water
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 3 large yellow onions, halved through the stem end and thinly sliced into 1/8-inch half-moons
• 1 sprig of thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 8 ounces fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
• 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
• 2 large eggs
• 1 large egg, separated and yolk beaten
1. To make the crusts, combine the flour, salt and chilled butter in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal. With the machine running, add the egg yolks and ice water through the feed tube. Continue to process until the dough forms a ball. Shape the dough into 1 disk if making a 10-inch tart, or into 6 equally sized disks if making 4-inch tarts. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour.
2. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator.
3. Over a low flame, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onions, thyme, bay leaf and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Stir occasionally, cooking the onions until soft and golden, reducing their volume by nearly half; this can take up to 1 hour. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, draining off any excess oil. Discard the thyme (if using fresh) and bay leaf.
4. Meanwhile, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Fit the dough into the pan (or pans), pressing it firmly into the bottom edge and fluted sides. Trim the excess and prick the dough several times with a fork. Place the tart pan(s) on a sheet tray for easy handling. Line the dough with aluminum foil, and weigh down with raw rice or beans. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and continue to bake a few minutes more, until the crust takes on a light brown color. Remove from the oven and allow to cool while the filling is completed.
5. In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix the goat cheese, cream cheese, 2 whole eggs, the egg white from the separated egg, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Mix until smooth.
6. Spread the caramelized onions evenly over the bottom of the prebaked tart shell and pour the cheese mixture over the onions, filling to just below the rim. Using a wide pastry brush, gently brush the beaten egg yolk over the top of the tart. Try to cover completely.
7. Bake for 12 minutes, until set. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.